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Man jailed for child sex offences

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A MAN who had a computer tower hidden in his wardrobe when police searched his home has been jailed for making and sharing indecent images of children, as well as inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers executed a warrant at the Ystrad Meurig home of Dean Lyster Harper, aged 61, after receiving intelligence that he had uploaded and distributed indecent images of children online.

A number of electronic devices were seized, including a computer tower which he had kept in a wardrobe. Digital forensic investigators from the Digital Communications and Cyber Crime Unit (DCCU) examined a laptop, mobile phone and the computer tower, looking for evidence that Harper had committed these crimes.

As well as examining the hard drives of these devices, analysts were able to look back through Harper’s messenger conversations, where they found that he had downloaded more than 1,300 indecent images of children between category A – the most extreme – and category C, some of which he had been distributing.

From the evidence gathered, it could also be seen that Harper was using chat rooms to talk to people who told him they were girls as young as 10, and continued to ask them to send images of an indecent nature.

Following CPS advice, he was charged with six counts of making or distributing indecent images of a child, and one count of attempting to cause or incite a girl under 13 engage in sexual activity, and was summonsed to court.

On Friday, June 22, Harper was sentenced to two years in jail and was placed on the sex offenders register. He had a sexual harm prevention order placed on him for 10 years.

Officer in case PC Damon Watmough said: “This is an excellent result, and I would like to thank the investigation team for their thorough examination of Harper’s devices.

“This is an offender who has been committing the despicable offence of making and sharing indecent images of children from their home with the belief he wouldn’t be caught. He had no previous offences, and although he admitted to viewing images of young girls online, it took a full investigation using the expertise of our DCCU to uncover the scale of his wrongdoing.”

DS Mathew Davies, of Dyfed-Powys Police’s Police Online Investigation Team, added: “This sentencing shows the impact the force can have when investigative teams work together to secure a conviction.

“By going through not only Harper’s hard drives, where images were saved, but his messenger history, we have been able to secure charges against him which have resulted in a custodial sentence.

”Viewing and sharing indecent images of children online is not a victimless offence – children somewhere have been groomed or forced into taking these images, which are then distributed online. We urge anyone with information about people involved in offences of this nature to report it immediately, ether by calling Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 or speaking anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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Council tax reduction supports people on low incomes

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A COUNCIL Tax Reduction Scheme is in place to help people who are on a low income. The council administers the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government for people who are liable to pay Council Tax and who live in Ceredigion. With the recent decision to raise Council Tax by 7%, residents on low incomes are being urged to find out if they are entitled to some help towards paying their Council Tax.

People can be eligible for the reduction if they are on a low income, working or unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or are caring for someone. The amount of the reduction depends on a person’s circumstances and how much Council Tax they need to pay.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Financial Services. He said, “We made the difficult decision to raise Council Tax by 7% to reduce the amount of cuts we have to make to council services. The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising.”

“We want to urge anyone who is on a low income to consider if they are eligible for Council Tax Reduction. Tax increases can add pressure onto people’s budgets, and although this increase is vital to keep quality services in Ceredigion, we want to make sure that anyone who is eligible for help gets it.”

For more information on eligibility and how to claim council tax reduction, email revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01970 633 252.

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7% council tax increase to protect education funding

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THE COUNCIL TAX in Ceredigion for 2019-2020 will increase by 7%. The increase was agreed by councillors to reduce the impact of cuts to the Council’s budget and, in particular, to protect education spending. The decision was made in a Council meeting on 21 February 2019.

2% of the 7% increase will be used to protect education spending. Schools budgets have been under severe stress after years of needing to make savings. Costs have increased yet again following the agreement of new teachers’ salary increases together with increased pension contributions. This extra 2% uplift will enable school budgets to be kept flat.

The council tax rate increase is set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase of 7.56%.

Councillor Ellen ap Leader of the Council, said, “We had no option but to ask Council to increase Council Tax by 7% in order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have had to make across council budgets. A successful Ceredigion in the future needs well-funded and well run schools. We want to invest in the future of our children and our county.”

“The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising. The uplift of teachers’ salaries and pensions has not been fully funded by Welsh Government to date. If council tax had not increased, we would have to make deeper cuts.”

In 2018-2019, the average Council Tax Band D property was £1,226.48. The increase means that the same property will pay £1,312.33 in 2019-2020. The council’s budget has been cut by £39m or 25% in the last seven years. The Council will still need to save another £6m in the coming financial year.

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Information management policies updated to improve security

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THREE key information management policies have been updated by Ceredigion County Council. The policies were updated because of new laws and the need make sure that they are effective in a changing technological environment.

The updated policies were approved by the council’s Cabinet in a meeting on 19 February 2019.

The three policies that have been reviewed are:

· Data Protection/GDPR Policy
· Information Security Policy
· Information and Records Management Policy

The Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Cabinet member responsible for Governance, Councillor Ray Quant MBE said, “The council needs to keep information and data to carry out the many service we provide. Because of this we have to make sure we’re up to date on data and information protections laws. This decision means that we have approved the hard work done to update the policies and make sure that they are fit for use.”

The policies are essential to manage digital and paper records of the council.

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